Bible Class Notes on 1 Peter 4:15-16 | Notes on the Petrine Epistles
All those who suffer are not blessed. Only those who suffer as Christians will be blessed. If one suffers because of his own wrongdoing, he will not be blessed.
Christians should not suffer as murders, thieves, wrongdoers, or mischief-makers. The sins listed here belong to the pagan lifestyle. This lifestyle is to have been put away.
Murder and stealing are serious crimes. Peter probably does not suspect anyone in these congregations of actually having committed these sins. He is, however, showing just how serious sin is.
“Wrongdoing” stands for many types of evil. The word actually means “criminal.” The idea is that these Christians should not break the laws.
These Christians are not to suffer as “mischief-makers.” This refers to being a busy-body and meddling int eh affairs of others. These are those individuals who believe they need to play a role in everyone’s decisions. Busybodies were commonly condemned in the Greco-Roman world. There were some philosophers who believed since they were acting as physicians for the soul they had the obligation to meddle in others’ affairs.
There may have been some temptation on the part of Christians to be busybodies. They would see individuals totally destroying their lives. Christians know a way to avoid much of the heartache in the world. Some Christians might have been tempted to volunteer information on how to avoid life’s difficulties. Peter tells these Christians to avoid such behavior.
This would be an instruction to avoid conflict with a suspicious society. This would be much like Paul’s instructions to live quietly. Christians are “to aspire to live quietly, to mind [our] own affairs” (1 Thess 4:11). “We hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work” (2 Thess 3:11).
Yet, those who suffer as Christians should not be ashamed. This recalls our attention to Peter’s being ashamed when he betrayed Christ. After Peter betrayed Jesus, “he broke down and wept” (Mk 14:72). Obviously, Christians who deny the Lord in any way should be ashamed.
However, we should not be ashamed to suffer as a Christian. There are many times that we may need to suffer for the name of Christ. At those times, we must stand up and take the harassment without being embarrassed or ashamed.
Under that name, Christians should glorify God. “Under that name” obviously refers to the name Christian. “Christian” originated in pagan circles: “In Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians” (Acts 11:26). Some Christians might have been ashamed of the name “Christian” since it did arise from pagans. Peter, however, assures these Christians they have no reason to be ashamed of the title “Christian.”
Christians should glorify God. As we have said earlier, to glorify God is to honor him. The lives of Christians should honor God so that God can be glorified under the name Christian.